Key legislators from Arizona wrote to President Barack Obama, asking him to reconsider the state's request for federal emergency funds to help with recovery from the Yarnell Fire.
Dear Mr. President:
We send this letter as a formal request for you to reconsider Arizona's bid for a Major Disaster Declaration due to the deadly blaze near Yarnell. The original request was made on July 9th, 2013 with additional materials provided on July 12th, 2013. It is our belief that the State of Arizona has provided sufficient qualifying information to demonstrate the significant magnitude of damages and trauma the people of Yarnell, Yavapai County and the State of Arizona have and will experience for years to come due to the Yarnell Hill Fire.
According to the joint State-Federal preliminary damage assessment, more than 8,000 acres were consumed by fire, 109 homes were destroyed, 2 homes sustained major damage and 21 homes experienced minor damage. This equates to a loss of 20% of the homes in Yarnell and an estimated $6,800,000 in damage to the small rural community. Yarnell has unique considerations to take into account including the fact that 35% of the population is above the age of 65 and an estimated 28% of the population is at or below the Federal poverty level. Because of those factors, it will be extremely difficult for these populations to recover and rebuild without federal assistance.
In addition to the devastating impacts on the residents and businesses of the town of Yarnell, the State of Arizona suffered it's most tragic loss in wildfire history - the deaths of 19 wild land firefighters. This tragedy is extremely distressing to the residents of Yarnell, Yavapai County and the entire state. These 19 men bravely served their communities and will never be forgotten.
In the days after the fire, Mr. President, you offered and pledged to support our state during its time of great need. In addition, Vice President Joe Biden reiterated your commitment at the memorial service for the Granite Mountain Hotshots. We fully expect that you will honor your commitments and help the most deserving and distressed residents of Yarnell.
We encourage you, Mr. President, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reconsider Arizona's requests for a Major Disaster Declaration. Please act quickly to provide supplementary federal assistance from the Individuals Assistance Program and Disaster Case Management Services for Yavapai County in response to the significant loss of residential structures in Yarnell and the Burned Area Emergency Response program for the Yarnell Hill Fire burn area.
Speaker Andy Tobin Arizona House of Representatives
Minority Leader Chad Campbell Arizona House of Representatives
Cc: The Honorable John McCain, Senator United States Congress
The Honorable Jeff Flake, Senator United States Congress
The Honorable Ann Kirkpatrick, Representative United States Congress
The Honorable Ron Barber, Representative United States Congress
The Honorable Raul Grijalva, Representative United States Congress
The Honorable Paul Gosar, Representative United States Congress
The Honorable Matt Salmon, Representative United States Congress
The Honorable David Schweikert, Representative United States Congress
The Honorable Ed Pastor, Representative United States Congress
The Honorable Trent Franks, Representative United States Congress
The Honorable Kyrsten Sinema, Representative United States Congress